This has been another post long in coming and even now I’m not sure if I should really talk about this. They say that it’s a pretty small percentage of the population that have mental disorders, for our purposes of this blog post it would be any aspect of a mental behavior or abnormality that is outside the norm of human expression. But based on a few articles I’ve read it’s more common than you’d expect it to be. And I’m one of the millions of individuals with my own slew of mental problems.
I’m not an expert on this. I can only speak as someone who has for years been emotionally, physically and verbally abused by others and myself. I’ve noticed ever since my transition from Male to Female that I’ve had problems cropping up that I thought long ago conquered. Such as my ailurophobia, long since been mostly in check it has come back with a vengeance. At it’s worst in high school I wouldn’t venture from my house or go far without someone nearby to buffer me from potentially seeing my phobia. Effectively turning a fear of a house pet known for roaming wild in neighborhoods into agoraphobia. When I was a guy I could just shove it deep down until I was in a safe place to just let it all out. It made it seem like I was a functioning adult, I never really was. Now that my old coping mechanisms are gone the world is scary and new. I’ve always been the type of individual to, as a guy, be easy to approach and talk to people because that’s what guys did. But now I can be myself and I’m terrified of meeting people and having a conversation with them.
I’ve spent so much of my life being abused one way or another that now that I surrendered the angry persona of a guy I just sometimes don’t know what to do. Sometimes it gets to the point where the only logical thing I can think of is killing myself. The number is far far far less than it used to be as a guy. As a man I thought about killing myself on a near constant basis. Now it’s only after I’m stuck in a negative thought cycle. Yesterday was one of those days. I went to bed the night before feeling kinda meh. Not horrible just not good. But at that point I got up at 4am from some night terror or something, I hardly ever know why I wake up with a beating heart and sweaty palms anymore, just that I do and it’s terrible. And stupid conversations like what are you wearing to work today Jan turn into slobberknockers of just emotional vile. One wrong/poorly worded sentence and my subconscious wakes up like a terrified giant and begins clubbing me down. And then every single terrible thing I’ve ever done, every bad thought, every misspoken word, every shout at me, every angry glare, every mistake it just… piles around me. And it gets to the point where I feel like I’m at the bottom of some deep pit screaming for it all to stop. I can barely keep myself from crying on those days. I can barely even think straight. And I guess my body demands that I try and break that cycle and so it spikes me in the head so badly I do lose vision in one eye. Just a sheer blinding white light that obscures everything.
And that was the place I found myself yesterday. With thoughts of “You’ll never pass” “Your voice is terrible” “You don’t know what you’re doing” “You killed your only friend” “You’re worthless” Over and over and over, just building up until there is nothing but these terrible and horrible thoughts in my head. As a guy there would be no outward sign I was having problems. I wasn’t supposed to show those kind of emotions. I was supposed to be the person others relied on, leaned on, called upon. I couldn’t have problems. And so I buried them until I was safely home where I could start drinking. Where I could be safe to be my miserable self. Day in and day out that was my life. Years of being told I wasn’t good enough became my mantra until I just didn’t trust myself. Developed a fear of success and would defeat myself from promotions or raises just because I didn’t want to be noticed. I perfected hiding in the crowd. My grades slipping until I was just a C+ student. Middle of the road.
I only have a few very close friends. I’ve only ever had a very small number of people I considered friends. I would call everyone a friend to make sure no one got mad at me. I tried to explain it to my mother once and she said that calling everyone a friend when they weren’t was silly and I should just call them what they were. So I stopped trying to explain stuff like that to her. Never once opened up to my father since he was the man of the house and he didn’t talk about his problems, he risked death to keep us from knowing how badly he’d injured himself working out. So that was my male role model. My female role models were either super bitchy or passive to the point of being a wall flower. But again that’s a product of the house I was brought up in. Did you know letting your child get a super painful sunburn, ie to the point where you can’t sleep and it hurts to move, is considered physical abuse? I didn’t know that until recently and that was frequently how I was exposed to the sun. For such long hours that I would burn. And there will be a few of you who say well use sunscreen. To be honest I didn’t learn about sunscreen until I was a teenager. My father didn’t use it, my mother didn’t go outside and my brother has my dads ability to tan instantly. So it wasn’t until my sister started to tan that I knew how and when to use sunscreen. By the time I was 16 and we’d gone on our last family vacation I knew how to use it and got only a little bit of a burn and that was on the tops of my feet.
My relationship with my father didn’t improve until I could drink with him. At that point I was one of the guys. So how would you express to your father that you want to be 1) A girl, 2) That you like guys, because you’re a girl, 3) You have a phobia that effects your ability to go outside 4) You’re afraid of making others angry at you
See, I have tried to make friends multiple times and when something happens, anything happens, I start thinking it’s me. And so I push hard to try and fix it. But it’s not my problem, most times, and my trying to fix it only makes it worse and now it is MY problem. Or I try and start friendships and things start looking up and then they just… stop talking to me or they basically say they’re doing it to be nice or something else that basically says I’m not worth their time. I tried that in a play by post RPG game. I was feeling good, jovial and hopeful. So I reached out to a bunch of people to start a conversation on how we could interact in a game we were in and I wasn’t just shot down. I was body slammed into a table and then lit on fire. So naturally it reminded me that reaching out to people didn’t go well. And trying to share things? Forget it. I’d rather run and hide then admit I’m the problem… and even discussing something like this, writing this, is making me feel as if I’m a huge burden on everyone and that I should be ignored. And when I reveal this to someone and they laugh or mock me about my problems? It just solidifies everything that I’ve been taught about sharing. I shared information at my last job and they fired it for me. I revealed my phobia to a guy and he mocked me for it.
So I don’t know how it feels for others but I know the crushing fear of anxiety where all I want to do is curl up in my snuggly warm comforters and just cry myself back to sleep. I know the fear of trying to cross any open space by yourself, I frequently wear sunglasses to hide the fact I’m not actually walking through open spaces with my eyes open, I know the feeling that nothing you ever do with ever be good enough. I know that at the end of the day I’m in a better place than I ever was. And I take a lot of medications to make it through the day. A lot if I’m going to be truthfully honest. But I’m getting the help, with friends and therapists, to combat many of my problems.
So for those times I say I’m ok, or the times I’m not, or I just don’t have the energy to be social. Just realize there are so many other folks out there like me that have problems and concerns and they fear talking about this with their loved ones. For those people give them the support they need. Don’t try to trivialize their suffering. None of this is fun in the slightest and there are many days I wish I didn’t feel broken, I’m told I’m not just bruised, but I know someday in the future I’ll be able to walk through a park by myself and not freak out. That I can go into a pet store and play with all the animals or go to a zoo. That I’ll be able to approach people again and not have a heart attack or that I can stand up in front of a group of coworkers and give a presentation.
So for those of us out there, please just be patient with us. We’re trying to get better and we’d appreciate it if you just provided us with the support we need.
On a final point on many of my personal play lists I have Mr. Mister’s Broken Wings on them. This song to me has always been about supporting others and making them whole again.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go see a man about a radioactive spider bite…